In the twelfth part of The Color of Magic, Rincewind and Twoflower listen to Tethis’s story, are rescued, are not rescued, are showered with hospitality, and are told of what awaits them in the morning. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
BLESS ALL OF THIS.
Seriously, there’s so much worldbuilding in this book alone, and it’s terribly exciting to me. OTHER WORLDS. OH MY GOD, TETHIS FELL OFF HIS OWN DISC-SHAPED WORLD AND SURVIVED. Like, nothing about the end of the previous section was a joke. HE REALLY FELL OFF THE EDGE. Which gives birth to this incredible sentence:
“At first I fell,” said Tethis, “but falling isn’t so bad, you know. It’s only the landing that hurts, and there was nothing below me.”
I’M PRETTY SURE RINCEWIND KNOWS THIS FEAR VERY WELL. Oh my god, he saw a world with a dragon encircling it. A dragon that’s like… as big as the ring of a planet. Holy shit, IS THERE A BOOK ABOUT THAT WORLD? (Actually, I really don’t know where any of the books are set in this series! I suppose it makes sense that they’d all be on the Disc, though.) I just… holy shit. I’m so impressed. I’M SO THRILLED ABOUT THIS. THIS DUDE FELL OFF HIS WORLD, FROZE, PASSED DRAGON PLANET, AND THEN FELL ON THE DISCWORLD.
There isn’t a more hardcore person in the book, holy shit.
The Rescue / Not Rescue At All
Look, the more I read this book, the more I admire Twoflower. This character has such a good heart, and he’s always quick to point out that there is always a chance for something better. I love that he points out that it’s “ungracious” of them to go after Tethis after Tethis saved them from spilling over the Edge and FREEZING IN SPACE. And yeah, at this point, Rincewind is still convinced they’re being conscripted into slavery, but is that really Tethis’s fault?
Rincewind’s plan fails, though, because he misjudges a very crucial aspect in his attack: Tethis’s changing size. Y’ALL. Y’ALL.
“But if you must know, your moon here is rather more powerful than the ones around my own world.”
“The moon?” said Twoflower. “I don’t under–”
“If I’ve got to spell it out,” said the troll, testily, “I’m suffering from chronic tides.”
OH MY GOD HOW IS THIS BOOK REAL, I SWEAR. No, this is too much to deal with. Poor Tethis!!!
So, a disc-shaped ship comes to fetch the two of them from Tethis, and yes, at no point does Rincewind actually think he’s being rescued from the water troll. I mean, in some sense, I suppose Rincewind believed that the water troll might have killed him, so getting away from the creature at least caused Rincewind to relax a bit. But the people who arrive are clearly powerful wizards, who are – honest to goodness – hydrophobic. THEY HAVE PHOBIAS OF WATER. Which… oh my god???? This distresses me as someone who used to have a fairly severe phobia of spiders because they are literally made of water themselves and they’re just perpetually disgusted by everything at all times. Like, do they have to drink water to survive???? And are they people who trained to become magical, or are they their own species? How did they develop pitch-black skin? OH MY GOD DO THEY HAVE TO DRINK WATER.
Really, Twoflower’s sense of wonder best describes me at this point:
“Sometimes I think a man could wander across the Disc all his life and not see everything there is to see,” said Twoflower. “And now it seems there are lots of other worlds as well. When I think I might die without seeing a hundredth of all there is to see it makes me feel,” he paused, then added, “well, humble, I suppose. And very angry, of course.”
On the one hand, that’s how I feel about the Discworld series itself. How many times already have I asked for more information? This fictional world is already super detailed and Pratchett’s referenced a lot in passing. I want to know more! I’m thankful that I’ve got over forty books to read because holy god give me more information. But, if I may get a tad serious right now, I grew up not being able to travel much at all. I’ve always had this itch to get out in the world, and I know it’s because I had a sheltered upbringing. I got the chance to tour with a lot of bands in my early 20s. I have toured a few times for Mark Does Stuff, and all of it was financially impractical, and I don’t care. I love seeing this world, and I admit it makes me feel just as small and angry as Twoflower to think about how much of it I haven’t seen. I know that I’ve said that Twoflower comes off as a parody of tourists, but he’s got so much more depth than that. He’s not just a joke. He genuinely wants to explore the world he lives in, and I love that.
Rincewind can’t quite appreciate that, at least not yet. He’s definitely far too worried about dying… like every waking second. Which is why it’s so funny to me that the hydrophobic wizards are terrified of him. I didn’t really think about the idea that Rincewind would have garnered a reputation by now, but he has escaped a number of impossible situations, and I bet some of those aren’t even in this novel. Not only that, but now it’s clear that there are probably a lot of folks who know that he possesses one of the Eight Great Spells in his mind. It’s a big deal! And magicians/wizards would know enough to fear that sort of possibility, you know? But it still doesn’t really work in Rincewind’s favor. Marchesa is afraid of Rincewind, but not enough that he can actually threaten her in any way that’ll get her to do what he wants.
Okay, so if you think Krull is awesome, you should probably read The Scar by China Mieville, because the city of Armada will RUIN YOUR LIFE. (Note that this is the second book in a loosely connected trilogy; I’d recommend reading Perdido Street Station first, both because it has some of the best worldbuilding ever, and because it’s a 200-page set-up for the scariest 400 pages imaginable. GODDAMN I LOVE CHINA MIEVILLE SO MUCH.) I think the idea of these people repurposing shipwrecks for their own city is one of the coolest goddamn things I’ve ever read, and I’m really hoping we get to explore the Krull beyond this novel. This is a society that literally lives on the Edge (GET IT???), and I felt like they were deliberately living as an ongoing risk. I love the at-times confusing and claustrophobic nature of the city, with all the paths crafted between ships and buildings. It’s also obvious that this is a culture that thrives on what others lose. Their city is comprised of wreckage, and their labor is comprised of those who nearly died at sea or at the Edge.
Which brings us to Twoflower and Rincewind, who are locked in a room with an elaborate and magnificent collection of sea-based foods, awaiting their sacrifice. They’re met by Garhartra, the “Guestmaster” of Krull, whose job it is to give these two sacrifices the best experience possible – prior to their “comparatively painless” death, of course. The whole thing is intentionally surreal because Garhartra doesn’t shy away from admitting the truth: these men are going to die very, very soon. So: enjoy yourselves! COMPARATIVELY, OF COURSE.
At least we know the Luggage is on the trail. How much longer until it eats its way back to Twoflower? SOON.
The original text contains the word “mad.”
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